NCAAM Teams 971d

Daily Word: Gonzaga, Yale sniffing first upset

Men's College Basketball, Seton Hall Pirates, Gonzaga Bulldogs, Baylor Bears, Yale Bulldogs

Each weekday, our college hoops experts discuss the biggest issues, trends and themes in college basketball.

1. What will be the biggest upset we see on Thursday?

Andy Katz: Gonzaga as the No. 11 seed knocking off No. 6 Seton Hall in the Midwest Region. This is a seed upset, not an upset in talent.

Eamonn Brennan: Yale vs. Baylor meets all the criteria, from Yale's style of play generally, to the way it matches up with the Bears specifically, to the fact that the game is being played in Providence, Rhode Island -- 1,500 miles from Baylor's campus and an hour from Yale's (not to mention the doomed 5-12 matchup). It almost makes sense as an upset, if such a thing is even possible. A far bigger, less likely, but not-at-all-impossible upset would come from UNC Wilmington against a Duke team that is gifted offensively but extremely vulnerable on the defensive end, particularly on the inside.

John Gasaway: Yale is going to get it done against Baylor. Justin Sears, Makai Mason and the rest of the Bulldogs play excellent defense -- and they'll need to, because Taurean Prince will be hard to stop. Still, if James Jones' guys can keep the Bears from getting offensive rebounds (a big if), the Bulldogs have a shot.

2. Which game provides the best individual player matchup?

Katz: Wichita State's Fred VanVleet against Arizona's Allonzo Trier and any other guard the Wildcats toss his way. Arizona will attempt to smother VanVleet.

Brennan: This is more about sections of players than sheer individuals, but Arkansas-Little Rock should be fascinating to watch against Purdue. On the front line, the Trojans have more size than you would expect from most Sun Belt teams but nowhere near the kind of size needed to offer a reliable counterweight to A.J. Hammons, Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan. (Few teams in the country have that.) Then again, Little Rock has forced a ton of turnovers all season, and we've seen teams press Purdue extremely effectively, especially after the Boilermakers have built a lead.

Gasaway: Kentucky's Marcus Lee against Stony Brook's Jameel Warney. Don't feel sorry for the poor little mid-major guy in this matchup, because he's got about 35 pounds on Lee, and he's coming off a 43-point game.

3. Who is the player to watch on Thursday?

Katz: Colorado's Josh Scott. If the Buffaloes are going to beat UConn, he has to have a monster game.

Brennan: A big part of Iowa State senior forward Georges Niang's decision to return to school had to do with the way his career would have ended last season -- with a first-round loss to UAB. The Cyclones' opponent this time around (Iona) is arguably even tougher, and Niang doesn't have any more eligibility in which to avenge an ending he finds difficult to swallow.

Gasaway: Isaiah Whitehead. The sophomore has arguably improved more since the beginning of the season than any other player in the field. Can he lead Seton Hall past Domantas Sabonis and Gonzaga?

^ Back to Top ^